Penn State Extension Holds General Community Meeting

On Tuesday, April 24th, 2018, local Penn State Extension Lehigh Valley efforts held a general Community Meeting at the Lynfield Community Center in conjunction with Bethlehem Councilwoman & HGSK Firm Community Liaison, Olga Negrón.

Over twenty Lynfield Community Members and Leaders, including Northampton County Council Member, Tara Zrinski, along with local Penn State Extension Managers, Educators, Associates, Volunteers, and Council Members gathered in the small Lynfield Community Center in Bethlehem, PA to discuss and learn what local Extension can do for the community members and their families.  Spanish was the primary language for most of the participants present.

After brief introductions (led by Olga Negrón and Maria Gorgo-Gourovitch- Horticulture Educator), a delicious spread of Spanish food was provided to the audience (sponsored by the HGSK Law Firm), and then presentations began.  Our presenters for this community meeting included:  Christi Graver, Agricultural Program Coordinator- Northampton County; Megan Chawner, Sustainable Ag Educator- Lehigh & Northampton Counties; Amy Korman, Horticulture & Green Industry Educator- Lehigh & Northampton Counties; Bob Yoder & Nadia Hassani, Lehigh Valley Master Gardener Volunteers; Denise Continenza, Food, Families, & Health Educator- Lehigh County; and Brad Kunsman, 4-H Educator- Northampton County.  Local USDA- NRCS specialists, Noel Soto and Dayanna Estades also joined the community meeting and gave a small presentation.  Many questions and comments were voiced by the audience members during and after official presentations were given, especially in the areas of gardening and growing fresh fruits and vegetables.  Flyers and other hand-out materials were available as well.

This collaborative and casual meeting was met with great success in reaching out to a small and local Lehigh Valley Hispanic community and has potential to be replicated and presented again in other Hispanic communities throughout Pennsylvania.  Local Penn State Extension Educators who helped coordinate and plan this event, Maria-Gorgo-Gourovitch, Megan Chawner, and Christi Graver, have intentions to have other similar community meetings like this in the future and from there plan to grow towards their similar line of work being supported by a USDA NIFA Food Safety Outreach Program (FSOP) grant titled “Bilingual Produce Safety Educational Programming for Hispanic/Latino Fresh Produce Growers and Farmworkers in Pennsylvania,” USDA NIFA Award number 2017-70020-27236.